A bill to be considered Tuesday in a Florida House committee would create new obstacles to restoring ex-felons’ voting rights mandated by Amendment 4, activists said Monday.
The House Criminal Justice Committee’s bill is the culmination of months of arguments about whether Amendment 4, which passed in November with almost 65 percent of the vote, would be watered down by the Legislature – or even whether lawmakers needed to pass any implementation bill at all.
The bill “is an affront to Florida voters,” said Kirk Bailey, political director for the ACLU of Florida, who said it was “overbroad, vague, [and] thwarts the will of the people … This is exactly what we were worried about from the beginning.”
Advocates’ worries began after Gov. Ron DeSantis said in December that the amendment shouldn’t take effect until the Legislature clarified some of its language. The ACLU and the Florida Rights Restoration Commission, the Orlando-based group that led the push for the amendment, have both argued the amendment was self-implementing and needed no such law.
Despite DeSantis’s comments, former felons have been registering to vote since the amendment took effect on Jan. 8.